Paula Deen was fired by the Food Network after her seemingly racist comments from a lawsuit deposition emerged, but it wasn’t the first time the chef shared her views on race in the South.
Deen’s views came to light this week through a lawsuit brought by former employees Lisa Jackson and her brother Bubba Hiers. The two claimed that they heard Paula Den use the n-word, a charge she didn’t try to deny.
When asked if she said the word, Deen answered: “yes, of course,” testifying:
“It’s just what they are — they’re jokes … most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks … I can’t determine what offends another person.”
She also spoke about having her staff pretend to be “slaves” at an old-fashioned Southern wedding saying:
“The whole entire waiter staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a blackbow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. That restaurant represented a certain era in America… after the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War… It was not only black men, it was black women… I would say they were slaves.”
The remarks led the Food Network to drop Paula Deen after 14 years on air, but it wasn’t even the first time she aired her views on race in the South. Last fall, she met with New York Times reporter Kim Severson to talk mostly about her endorsement of diabetes drug Victoza, but ended up making some bizarre comments seemingly in the defense of slavery.
In Deen’s appearance on Who Do You Think You Are, Deen talked about the Antebellum South, calling abolition a “terrific change” but also defending slavery. She said that “black folk were such integral part of our lives, they were like our family,” and so, “we didn’t see ourselves as being prejudiced.”
Though the news stories focused largely on her work with diabetes, deep within the interview Paula Deen made another strange statement on race.
“We’re all prejudiced against one thing or another,” she continues. “I think black people feel the same prejudice that white people feel.”